Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Okinawa's Maha Bodhi Tree of Enlightenment

It’s alleged that long ago, while simply whiling away the hours under the MahaBodi tree in India, a fellow by the name of Siddhartha Gautama, a.k.a. Shakyamuni, a.k.a. Buddha, attained enlightenment. Of course as a result of this, the folks in India think that this is a very special tree. So much so that aside from those previously planted in Ceylon in the 3rd Century B.C., they’ve never allowed a sapling to be taken from it and transplanted outside of India proper.

So a few years back when they allowed a sapling to be planted outside of India and in of all places Okinawa Japan it raised a few eyebrows. Never-the-less it did happen in 2003 when the Maha Bodhi Society of India decided to do so and planted one of the saplings near where the Battle of Okinawa, a.k.a. “The Typhoon of Steel” one of the world’s bloodiest chapters of history (thus far) came to a close.

The Maha Bodhi tree now sits in Southern Okinawa not far from the Himeyuri Monument and Peace Prayer Park. Sort of in-between the two you might say. The tree is protected by a large concrete building with a granite façade and greenhouse roof and surrounded by a small tree lined courtyard to further protect building from damage caused by the fierce typhoon winds that frequent Okinawa.

It’s a solemn place near several other monuments, memorials to man’s folly, a.k.a. “War.” This site is often visited by various world-renowned dignitaries who come here to remember as well as pay their respect to the war dead. The list of notables includes none other than the Dalai Lama himself. He always seems to make it a point to stop here and pray whenever he comes to Okinawa to speak on the matter of world peace.  Several plaques dot the courtyard to commemorate his visits. One in particular offers up this message:

All I can add to that is given recent stark rise in violence, conflict and with all the strife in the world these days, it would appear that Buddha isn’t listening to the Dalai Lama or anyone else for that matter. While the world spins out of control, folks in the first world are too busy watching their favorite events on the idiot box and feeding their faces (Bread and Circuses) while the rest of the world stands there with their hands out begging for a few crumbs.

IMHO, Both sides are wrong here. First, if it truly is better to give than to receive, then the haves ought to be willing to want to share of their abundance. Secondly, the have-nots who can need to stop waiting for some Robin Hood type politician to come along and steal it for them. They need to start doing what they have the ability to do to better themselves on their own. By that, I don’t mean we can’t give some of them a hand up but, there are those in the crowd who could benefit from a good swift kick in the pants! Put another way, for the vast majority of these, its better to give them a fishing poll than to give them a fish. That way we’ll be better able to get what the haves can give to the have-nots who really need it more efficiently. That way when people aren't motivated by either fear or want, maybe, just maybe we'll have world peace....

Comment: When I first started to think up ideas about how to write this story, I was reminded of a time way back when I visited Key West Florida and saw a plaque on a tree commemorating a time when Earnest Hemmingway got drunk and pissed on it. When I saw the nice rest facilities located near the Maha Bodhi Tree (pictured above), I was wondering if they had planned to place a plaque there commemorating the time the Dalai Lama pissed there? Then I decided against it because it might offend someone....

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